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Mentoring is like driving: there are 'rules of the road' that help set expectations

As a first grade teacher of 40 years, my Mom mentored new teachers on several occasions. In my recent interview with her, there were three core 'rules of the road' that can help set expectations between a mentor and mentee: 1. Anticipate other drivers (GUIDANCE) 2. There's two way traffic (EXCHANGE) 3. Follow the speed limit (RESPONSIBILITY)

Photo of Amanda Briden
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Rules of the Road:
  1. Anticipate other drivers - just as drivers need to be alert and anticipate the actions of other drivers on the road, mentors should be ready to anticipate the needs of their mentees.  How can they help guide them with ease into a new situation, skill set or experience?
  2. There's two way traffic - there is a satisfying and rewarding exchange of knowledge and time between a mentor and mentee.  Both people can learn, equally, from each other.
  3. Follow the speed limit - both people need to understand that the mentor/mentee relationship is a responsibility.  The experience can make a significant impact on that person's life as well as the lives of others.


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Photo of Meena Kadri

Awesome analogy, Amanda! We're loving that it unlocks a number of opportunity areas for the upcoming Ideas phase.

Photo of Amanda Briden

Glad it's helpful. Thanks!


Hi Amanda Briden,

Nice post. No doubt it containes many key lessons of mentoring & it may unlock a number of opportunity areas for upcoming Ideas phase, but I could not understand as to how it is being complied with the given theme -"How might we inspire and engage young people to support older adults through mentorship? ". Will you please explain in detail?

Photo of Meena Kadri

Syeda – during our Research phase is about exploring our challenge topic broadly – not actually answering the challenge question (which will come in the Ideas phase) Before we start thinking about solutions, it's helpful to use various lenses on the topic like making analogies as Amanda has here. By exploring the notion of 'expectations' through her interview with her mother – we can all learn and hopefully will propose richer ideas when it comes to the next phase.

To open up the conversation Amanda has started here – in your own community, do you know of different or similar expectations around mentoring? How have they lead to successful exchange of skills, knowledge, etc? We'd love you to add your global perspectives to this topic.


Hi Meena,

Neither the "Mentoring is like driving" nor "driving is like mentoring". These are two different subjects even in global perspectives, as far as my knowledge is concerned. "Mentoring" broadly is advising, guiding, counseling or helping either to understant or to learn something.

Driving itself is a small & individual activity / item particularly when it is on Road. Don't try to say or add in a global perspective, if you are seeking something or some information or explanation from somebody. One must be clear that driving on road & driving in air are different. What will be the global perspectives of these two? Please explain in detail, so that I could learn about your perspectives

There are different or more anticipations or expectations around mentoring. How they lead to successful exchange of skills, knowledge, etc? I would disclose them in Ideas Phase.

I am expecting a counter on this comment. So, please don't be silent after reading this comment. Make a strong counter, so that I could recounter it.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Here's some insight from our OpenIDEO co-founder on the use of analogies in creative problem solving:

Photo of Damien Lapray

Hi Amanda,
I like the simplicity and clarity of your analogy.
However it feels to me that the destination of your road-trip is missing despite the "road to growth".
I see mentoring as "going somewhere together" otherwise it might just be another form of "driving around together".
Do you think the destination could be "new skill" ?
thanks for sharing.

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